Young people's participation in extracurricular physical education: A study of 15—16 year olds in North-West England and North-East Wales

Andy Smith, M Thurston, K Green, K Lamb

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This paper examines the levels and forms of participation in extracurricular physical education (PE) of a cohort of 1010 15—16 year olds attending seven state schools in north-west England and north-east Wales. The data reveal that extracurricular PE provision in all schools retained a particular focus on competitive team sports alongside a number of recreational partner sports and individualized activities. At the same time, the study confirmed previous findings that young people's reported levels and forms of participation in different sports and physical activities in extracurricular PE varied significantly and differentially according to gender and, to some extent, social class. To this configuration, however, needs to be added the particularity of the schools young people attend. Schools evidently influenced patterns of participation, particularly among 15—16-year-old girls. It seems likely that the medium through which higher rates of female participation are realized —particularly in lower working class areas — is the particular blend of sports and physical activities available in extracurricular provision. In other words, the kind of sports and physical activities a school provides appears to be a critical factor in understanding school-level differences in participation. In this regard, it seems that becoming a Specialist Sports College is prominent among a number of developments which may result in a diversification of extracurricular PE opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-368
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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